Bob Balaban's Blog


    Bob Balaban


    What Goes Around, Comes Around (or, should that be "WHO goes around..."?)

    Bob Balaban  February 17 2008 08:55:16 AM
    Greetings, Geeks!

    Yes, I have been away from blog-land for a few weeks, I was disappeared into the Lotusphere/QuitMyJob/GotANewJob parallel universe there for a while. And then, of course, along with the new job came a new laptop, which (as usual) took 3 or 4 days to get fully set up and functioning properly (and we're still not completely there yet, for some reason the new SonicWall VPN thingie just won't do its job...)

    So, here I am once again, on the outside of the IBM firewall, back in Business-Partner-Land. Coming up to speed on my new company's products and services. It turns out there are a lot of those, so it may take a little time. I was given a terrific suggestion on how to expedite that -- join in as a lurker on any and all sales presentations/demos being given to our existing or prospective customers on the Net.

    In the meantime, it looks as though I will be immersing myself in a couple of new (to me, but not new to many of you, I suspect) technical areas. One that I'm particularly interested in so far is the particular problems faced by organizations trying to run BOTH Notes/Domino and Exchange messaging infrastructures. I'll call it "Coexistence" (peaceful or otherwise). There are a bunch of them out there, though I have no idea how common it really is. Even though I'm no Admin expert (yet, anyway), I can easily see how maintaining/synchronizing/integrating two directory systems, two (or more) mail clients, and two calendaring systems could be  a real nightmare.

    [full disclosure]
    Naturally, Binary Tree (my new employer) have some products in this space, and my "interest" is therefore not entirely academic, nor will my opinions on this topic be entirely objective (for one thing, I can't imagine why anyone would keep Exchange around when they already have Notes/Domino....). But since I am not a sales/marketing guy, my interest and focus in this blog will remain almost  entirely technical. And there are PLENTY of interesting technical issues needing resolution in this space.
    [/full disclosure]

    So, in the sprit of me-learning-from-you with which I started this blog in the first place, I would love to know:

        - How common is a dual IBM/Microsoft messaging infrastructure?
        - How often do you run into other enterprise messaging systems in terms of integration/coexistence needs? (I hear Groupwise still have a few million seats...)
        - Is it really the nightmare to administer that I imagine it is? Or have you figured it out?
        -What specially difficult technical issues do those of you who deal with this situation for a living encounter?
               (One example that I've heard mentioned: Sending Notes email to Exchange, when the email contains an attached form and/or an LS button or doclink in the email body...)

    Another, related-but-less-technical question I have is:

        When you have encountered this 2-headed situation, has it been "stable"? By that I mean, does the organization intend things to stay that way over time? I can imagine that in many cases, there are 2 messaging systems in place, but the situation is temporary, because the organization is actually migrating from one to the other.

    I'd love to know how often this is the case (i.e., there are 2 but 1 is on the way out), versus how often it's the case because of historical accident (acquisition/merger, or whatever), and the organization intends to leave it that way.

    Let's hear that feedback!

    (Need expert application development architecture/coding help? Contact me at: bbalaban,
    This article ┬ęCopyright 2009 by Looseleaf Software LLC, all rights reserved. You may link to this page, but may not copy without prior approval.

    1Myers  02/17/2008 11:20:33 AM  What Goes Around, Comes Around (or, should that be WHO goes around... ?)

    the multiple head is dead common, particuly in big corporate land, for the last 8 years i dont think there has been a single company that i have worked for that has not been doing it in one way or the other every few months (as they both sell and buy other companies), as far as administaion goes, the only real problems come up with the usual "<name you email clinet> used to do that, why cant i do it any more", and also when you use the migration to tighten the things the users are doing, server co existance tends not to be bad at all (just get bulk of the migration done, and then flip to SMTP and stable means of comunication) with only that strange stuff the directors secrarery does to ensure that the director does not need to think cloging up the works.

    tecnical issues really arnt the root problem (they can after all be fixed) the real problem, that seems to happen every time is that some twit who has the ear of the upper managment, has a problem and instead of raiseing the problem with the migration helpdesk, goes straight the the director, which in the scheme of things means that by the time it get back to you has moved to "the whole migration is a complete mess/failure, and i want it sorted NOW"

    sorry to answer the other questions would take HOURS!!!, but happy to do it, if you want more feed back (MSN or email)

    2Ben Langhinrichs  02/17/2008 11:30:19 AM  What Goes Around, Comes Around (or, should that be WHO goes around... ?)

    I have an obvious bias as well, as my company sells products in this area as well. In fact, at times we are probably competitors, although we (Genii and Binary Tree) have partnered on big deals as well, such as Mobile/Exxon. In any case, I spend a lot of time dealing with a lot of companies who have dual infrastructures. Due to the focus of our CoexLinks product, these are sometimes Notes/Domino shops who convert to Exchange for mail, sometime Exchange shops who acquire a Domino based subsidiary, and sometimes Notes/Domino shops who acquire an Exchange based subsidiary. In general, the first group becomes a dual infrastructure, as does the second group, and the third group generally becomes all Notes/Domino. I'm not going to get into all the reasons, as you can probably guess them, but people who switch to Exchange for mail very, very often never really switch the applications. Which is why the name of our product is CoexLinks and not MigrateLinks. We, too, believe strongly in coexistence.

    I hope we can work together again, for that matter.

    3Jens Polster  02/17/2008 11:46:12 AM  What Goes Around, Comes Around (or, should that be WHO goes around... ?)

    Being a consultant I know at least three larger companies (with several ten thousand seats combined) which are currently migrating from Notes to Exchange. All of these migrations happen because of mergers or acquisitions. In all cases the plan is to keep the Domino servers (at least for the next few years) because "migrating" the applications in almost every case means re-writing them from scratch.

    At least in one case the users will even keep their Notes clients for accessing the apps, in other cases the applications will get a web frontend (if they don't already have it).

    If the users keep their Notes clients workflow apps can use notes:// URL links (in addition to http:// URLs for web-enabled aps) in workflow notification messages but for standard mails containing doclinks a third party tool is required.

    I have been working in a company where we were using Outlook/Exchange for messaging and C&S and Notes/Domino for applications (the CRM system was a Notes app, for example). Before we joined the company (it was a substantial number of Notes-minded people) they only had Outlook/Exchange and some Access-based applications.

    We introduced Notes/Domino to the company and had the coexistence for several years after that. In addition to the technical complexity we also had to deal with the old MS-minded IT staff who, well, were not actually what I would call supportive or helpful. This is a factor you will probably find in a lot of companies migrating from one system to another and I think it can only be overcome by education and management support.

    4Perry Hiltz  02/19/2008 3:04:02 PM  What Goes Around, Comes Around (or, should that be WHO goes around... ?)

    Once you get past the connector issue from Microsoft the biggest issue is in proper MIME and iCal conversions.

    Getting Domino to convert these properly really is the challenge. The key is getting the right entity to perform the conversion. I know a thing or two about Binarytree's CMT For Co-Existance.

    Now if I can only get it running in my own test environment without help.

    5David  02/22/2008 7:13:53 AM  What Goes Around, Comes Around (or, should that be WHO goes around... ?)

    I work in a mixed shop that has no intention on becoming just one or the other any time soon. While I am sure that the people who drove the implementation of Exchange/Outlook would like to see us all using it, I know there are more then a few exIBMers and Notes fans (like my self) on staff that would sooner cut off their arm then use Outlook.

    Coexistence definitely brings a complication to the environment that would otherwise not be there. I think the biggest problem is that email is an emotional thing for many people. It is treated much like religion, in that the first one you are taught is the only one you want to have. (exceptions do exist)

    The most frustrating part is that time and time again I find that on the Notes/Domino side of things we are having to code or change things to accommodate Exchange or Outlook's limitations. Of course it is much easier to customize Notes/Domino so it makes sense. I just can't seem to wrap my mind around why then people would want the closed system. (I guess it should be noted, however, that I am working towards using an all open source laptop)

    I am a firm believer in two conflicting theories in relation to IT decision making.

    1 - Define the problem and produce a solution. This simply means don't bend your business to bring in a technology, but rather implement technology to enhance and improve your business. This means the business users should be driving technology direction and purchases.

    2 - Only qualified technical people should be making technical decisions. It seems whenever we let the business users make decisions, we wind up with things like long term coexistence of messaging platforms.

    So I guess what an ideal scenario would be is for the business users to help identify for the technical people the services they want, the process currently in place, and the pains experienced, then turn that information over to the technical people to decide the most efficient and complete way to address the needs of the business. (wait... didn't I see this in that SOA pamphlet?)

    Now I can tell you that most of our clients are calling us to move them to Notes from another platform, (typically Groupwise of late) it is not the norm to want to keep both platforms for a long period of time. This makes for interoperability purchases a difficult proposition. Most people will make concessions to use the provided tools then purchase a third party for inter-op knowing it is a temporary condition.

    Some of the technical issues surround Sametime and our usage of Domino as our LDAP. We need to massage the data imported into Notes from Exchange, and for SOME reason, can not just trust AD for Sametime, Quickr, and Portal.